Pupils to experience wartime evacuation

Isle of Wight schoolchildren are to discover what it was like to be evacuated during the Second World War, at a special re-enactment event at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet this week.

Organised by Isle of Wight Council’s Heritage Education Service, the event (from 18 to 21 June) recreates the scenario that tens of thousands of schoolchildren went through at the beginning of the war.

“This is an interesting and thought provoking chance for our schoolchildren to gain a small insight into the war that they would not be able to obtain from their school books,” said Cabinet member for environment and heritage, Councillor John Hobart.

“Experience days such as this ensure that future generations are made aware of the great sacrifices that have been made in the past for them to live freely today and helps bring to life, albeit in a small way, just what children of their age experienced at the time.”

Pupils and staff from the schools will be able to dress up in Second World War clothes and will arrive at the steam railway complete with gas mask ahead of a ride on a train, mirroring the experience from the war years.

Pupils will taste authentic wartime food, such as ‘eggless’ cake, learn about rationing and make-do-and-mend toys and experience a school room environment with lessons.

As happened during the war, there’s every chance the lessons could be interrupted at any time by an air raid siren – if this happens, the pupils must cram into a makeshift air raid shelter. As they board their train and are waved off from the platform, they will get a real feeling for how it might have felt to be evacuated all those years ago.

From Monday 18 June to Thursday 21 June, there are morning sessions held between 10.15am and 12.30pm.

The activities have been put together by the Heritage Education Service to support the learning of students as part of their local history programme.